The scientist-in-charge at the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory of the United States Geological Survey (USGS), tasked with monitoring the activity of its caldera, Mike Poland, has revealed that just in November, the University of Utah seismograph station recorded 107 earthquakes in the region, with the largest one having a 3.1 magnitude and occurring outside the park.
“There was also a very small swarm of earthquakes that began right at the end of November and continued into early December right here on the west. The largest event of this sequence was a magnitude 2.1”, the researcher said in a video published by the USGS.
According to Poland, a further deformation of the caldera has been recorded.
“So over the last two years, there was an overall downward trend that suggests subsistence of the resurgent dome. But there’s been some variability here in the last few months caused by storms”, he concluded, adding that “Moving to the Mallard Lake Dome and the Old Faithful site, we see the same downward trend over time, over the two years of this plot, with some variations in the last few months again. Subsistence with a little bit of variability”.
The Norris Geyser Basin, which rose from 2015 until October 2018 but has remained steady for almost a year, also had a small subsistence event with a two-centimetre uplift in autumn 2019.
Debates Around Next Supereruption
His update about the movement of the Yellowstone caldera and changes in the region has come amid speculations about yet another supereruption that could inflict devastation spanning several states. As the volcano is thought to have erupted 2.1 million years ago, 1.3 million years ago, and 640,000 years ago, inflicting devastation on a global scale, The Daily Express reports, some have claimed, citing their calculations, the interval between the devastating events is 600,000 years, meaning that a planetary catastrophe is overdue. Such claims, however, have been dismissed by scientists.
“Because we don’t know. There’s no clock down there, the magma is going to erupt when it wants to erupt. There’s been a lot of things that have happened over the last 600,000 years that might indicate there’s less likely of an eruption”, he said.